Most of the cooking gas demands in Indian households are met by LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas, more commonly known as propane, butane) gas connections. India has become the second-largest LPG consumer in the world with 90% countrywide coverage.
The government now intends to spread the use of Piped Natural Gas (PNG) which has 50 lakh consumers as of 2019.
In this system, you get cooking gas delivered via pipelines straight to your home and pay for it exactly as you would pay your light bill. There is no cylinder involved. LPG is locally stored while natural gas is supplied from HVJ (Hazira-Vijaypur-Jagdishpur) pipelines of GAIL. Installation of PNG is based on technical and commercial feasibility, thus progress isn’t as fast as the simple on-demand pipeless LPG cylinder delivery system.
Smack in the middle of the cumbersome and traditional procedure of manual cylinder storage/ replacement and the modern luxury of domestic PNG lies the system of reticulated gas. It is installed by the builder at the development and planning stage and is inherited by housing societies for management and maintenance. Pipeline installation is sophisticated but limited to the residential/commercial premises and doesn’t need years of planning.
What is a reticulated or piped gas system?
It’s a centralized piped gas system (or ‘gas on tap’), which is a way to deliver cooking gas through a network of pipelines that are connected to the main gas cylinder storage system. Each kitchen has its own LPG cylinder, except it’s not tucked away under the kitchen countertop, but sits in a bulk storage area under the residential building or basement, along with its many compatriots.
How reticulated/piped gas system work?
High inlet gas pressure from the source is regulated and reduced to the level appropriate for the pipes and then delivered to the individual outlets in households. This is done by a pressure regulation system that consists of a cylinder manifold (for small to medium complexes) and underground/ above ground/mounded bulk LPG storage tanks (for huge apartment complexes).
Let’s understand a common three-stage pressure control system with an inlet pressure range of 1 bar to 6 bar and outlet pressure range of 110 millibars to 28 millibars.
- Cylinders with adaptors and pigtailed pipe are stacked against a wall and attached to the first pressure regulation system.
- The first pressure gauge is connected to the mainline which has the gas bank’s main controller and runs through a second pressure regulation system.
- The riser ball valve then takes the regulated gas up to individual apartments which have their own control valve, pressure regulator and a meter (usually at the kitchen entrance or outdoor pantry).
- A copper pipe connects the set-up to the kitchen and gas is provided via a tap.
- The cylinder manifold at the centralized bank consists of two arms – operational arm and a stand-by arm. Once the operational arm runs out there is an automatic changeover to ensure uninterrupted supply.
It’s the responsibility of the society MC to order cylinder refills, activate connections for individual homes and collect gas payment from the residents.
Features and benefits of the reticulated or piped gas system
- Overpressure and underpressure shut off valves to provide safety and proper burning at the stove
- 24/7 gas supply without the need for dragging, replacing cylinders or placing cylinder replacement orders
- No need to stash the cylinders in the house
- Individual prepaid/ postpaid meters which ensure transparency
- Economical benefit since you pay only as much as you use
- No need for interaction and transaction with gas agencies or delivery men
- No need to register with a gas agency or be subject to a waiting list for a gas cylinder connection
- Enhanced safety owing to the fact that gas pressure is low in pipeline compared to the volume packed in the cylinder at home
- Adds value to the society as it signifies the transition to an advanced gas distribution system
How to maintain a warehouse for a reticulated or piped gas system?
- Keep the cylinder storage facility locked at all times while displaying hazard (highly inflammable) signs around the fenced set-up. It’s important that no one is allowed to smoke or have fireworks near the gas bank enclosure.
- Don’t allow unauthorised access to residents, servicemen, etc.
- Ensure regularly that valves, gauges are at proper measurements so there’s no over/under pressure and backflow or leakages
- Always keep a good stock of fire extinguishers close to the set-up
- Make sure that gas bank facilities are properly ventilated
- Don’t install wired lighting or allow mobiles inside the gas bank
- Don’t allow children to play or pets to wander off around the gas bank
MC should arrange for thorough training to be given to designated resident/office manager/ head guard or committee member in the matters of technical specifications, safety measures and maintenance dos and don’ts along with refill order procedures so that there’s no confusion or mishaps that could affect the comfort and safety of residents.
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